Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I had seen this book for quite a while and knew it was popular and had great reviews on Amazon, so I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. I have to say...I am glad I did. It is a memoir, with Jeannette detailing her life growing up, the places they lived, and her family's relationship with each other. I had a hard time putting it down and finished it tonight after only starting it on Sunday, four nights ago. I found it so unbelievable (and I don't mean this in a rude way) that people actually choose to live as she did. That is not to say that she enjoyed how her family lived; although she did for the most part, except for the time they lived in West Virginia, but that was for about six years... Her story starts with her first memory, of being three years old and making hot dogs on a stove wearing a frilly pink dress. She has to make them herself since her mom is too busy painting/being an artist. This unfortunately leads her to catch on fire and stay in the hospital for six weeks getting skin graphs. That is only one story of an unbelievable life. I absolutely recommend this book.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 by Paul Krugman

I love me my Paul Krugman, but I just had the hardest time getting into this book. Maybe it is because his End This Depression Now! is more timely, but I was also blown away by the list of things that politicians should distinctly not do and how many of them are actually doing them. Like how you should not try to cut spending and pay off your debt (austerity) when you are still in recession/depression mode (like how Europe/Germany is expecting that of Greece/Spain/Italy). As I kept reading, I felt like this particular list kept getting longer and longer...all these no-nos that the governments are pursuing contrary to economic theory and what really works. Take Paul Ryan, for instance; his plan to cut spending would wreak havoc on the economy like no other, and to implement these changes at a time when more people need them is just ludicrous. But that is what politicians are doing. Some people expect the Fed to do more, and there is only so much Ben & Friends can do to help without actual policy measures (like the JOBS Act) being implemented. In the end, more stimulous is needed to help America get out of this trip. For international matters, Germany needs to chill out and understand that what they are doing is contrary to what should be done and in the end it will bite them. I think I read that it is already predicted that Germany will be back into a recession by the end of this year because of the austerity measures they are forcing on the rest of Europe.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine #1) by Ransom Riggs

I really enjoyed this story. I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago, but have been tardy in posting my review... Anyway, it is about a boy named Jacob that seems most ordinary, but has a slightly obsessed grandfather who has a stockpile of weapons and believes that some sort of creatures are after him. Jacob knows of his grandfather's tall tales about when he lived in Wales and the people he knew and the adventures he went on. But then one day, his grandfather is drug to the forest behind his home and killed. Jacob witnesses the murder and sees that it is the same sort of creature that his grandfather always talked about, and is struck with horror. Jacob slips into a depression and his parents send him to a psychiatrist who suggests that he go to Wales to see if the rest of his grandfather's stories were true, especially the one about a house on a hill run by a Miss Peregrine. He and his father go to Wales on what is assumed to be a witch hunt, but Jacob soon learns the truth of his grandfather, Miss Peregrine, and the creatures that killed him. Unfortunately, Miss Peregrine and her wards are being saught by the creatures and Jacob is the only one that can help him. Will he choose to stay with Miss Peregrine and her wards or return to America with his father? Lately, I have been itching to go on a trip or adventure, and this book helped to satisfy those desires.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

This is a book that has been on my radar for a couple of months and when I moved, I got the lovely opportunity to place it on hold...and be number 300 on the hold list. But lucky, lucky me found it at the library as a "lucky day" copy, so of course I snagged it since I was so darn curious. I don't really read books like this; I think the closest is probably the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. ANYWAY, the book is set up in three parts (I won't divulge the name of the parts and ruin it for anyone), and each chapter alternates by being told from the point of view of Amy's diary or Nick, Amy's husband. The story begins on Nick and Amy's fifth anniversary. Nick is at The Bar, a bar he and his twin sister Margo ("Go") own, when a neighbor who lives across from Nick and Amy calls The Bar to let Nick know that his front door is wide open (a very unusual occurrence). Nick goes home to investigate and finds the living room upturned and Amy nowhere to be found. The police are called and they find the first clue in the treasure hunt that Amy creates for Nick every year for their anniversary. Between the clues and where they lead Nick, the unusual circumstances surrounding Amy's disappearance (such as the bump in her life insurance policy), and Nick's lack of an alibi, everyone believes he is guilty. But as the story goes on, more and more things don't add up. Where is Amy's body, if Nick really did murder her? And if she is alive, as Nick is adamant that she is, where is she? This one definitely had me going, even to the very last page.

What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank

I had very, very high hopes for this book, but was unfortunately greatly disappointed. It seemed to be more like a single examination of a state (a state that the author is from, by the way), rather than a set of ideas about states that are conservative, even when it won't benefit that particular set of beliefs (and what I was hoping it would really be like). The biggest thing that I came away with after reading this book is that Republicans forever promise changes in this, that, and the other thing (like outlawing abortion, lowering taxes, and smaller government) when in reality, once they're elected, they seem to do whatever they please. The most important part that Frank mentions is that even though Republicans promise to overturn Roe v. Wade, it is really only the Supreme Court that can do that. I have so many friends who vote Republican on this single issue, and I never understood that, and now I especially understand it even less. Why vote for a political party for one reason when that one thing they campaign on will never happen? I can't imagine what Europe would think of America if abortion was outlawed. Just another backwoods thing those durn Americans are doing...who understands those Americans?